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LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron has asked former New York police commissioner Bill Bratton to act as a consultant to British police on how to curb street violence, Downing Street said Friday.
Bratton has agreed to visit Britain in the coming months to give advice on tackling gang culture, in the wake of the mob rioting, arson and looting that has blighted English cities in recent days.
"The prime minister spoke to Bill Bratton today to thank him for agreeing to make himself available for a series of meetings in the UK in the autumn to share his experience of tackling gangs while police chief in Boston, New York and Los Angeles," a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
Cameron "is keen for the government to draw on experience and expertise developed in other countries as well as in the UK.
"Bill Bratton, who has long-standing links with British policing, will be providing this advice in a personal capacity and on an unpaid basis."
Bratton told NBC New York that he expects to start work soon, but will not move overseas on a permanent basis.
The post would be long-term and is not specifically designed to respond to the riots that have rocked London and other British cities since last week, leaving city neighbourhoods in flames and five people dead.
Bratton was a key figure in imposing "zero tolerance" policing in New York.
Newspapers reported that Cameron was keen on bringing in Bratton to take over as Britain's police chief, but Home Secretary Theresa May ruled it out, saying the post had to go to a British national, as advertised.
Paul Stephenson announced his resignation as Scotland Yard chief on July 17 as the News of the World phone hacking scandal spread. He stepped down after revelations of links between senior officers and the Sunday tabloid.
Cameron last month raised the prospect of bringing foreigners into top police posts.
"Why shouldn't someone with a different skill set be able to join the police force in a senior role? Why shouldn't someone who has been a proven success overseas be able to help turn around a force at home?" he told parliament.
The home secretary has the power to appoint the new Scotland Yard chief, after consulting with London Mayor Boris Johnson.